Fertility exam in a cheetah

Pregnancy checks for cheetah can take the guess-work out of managing this species. SEZARC uses a non-invasive method, whereby hormone metabolites are extracted from cheetah feces, to tell managers if their cheetahs are pregnant or not.

Felids can undergo pseudopregnancy (false pregnancy) if fertilization does not occur, which can last up to 65 days and is indistinguishable from pregnancy that lasts 90 days. However, a drop in progesterone occurs at the end of pseudopregnancy that can be measured through non-invasive hormone monitoring to alert managers whether their animals are pregnant or not. In one case, a female cheetah, Ngoma, had previously produced offspring but more recently had three consecutive pseudopregnancies. A standard reproductive exam used in humans, known as a hysterosalpingogram, uses radio-opaque dye injected into the uterus followed by x-ray to reveal any structural problems. In Ngoma's case it revealed that she had developed an abnormal uterine horn (shown as a "ballooned" area in white) that would prevent her from getting pregnant. Treatment options are being considered to see if this can be resolved.

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